UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO HOSPITALS
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Laboratories
The ART Laboratories at the University of Chicago Hospitals offers a wide variety of laboratory procedures tailored to meet the needs of each infertility patient. Our lab staff has over 50 years of combined experience in working with the unique problems of each patient. In our state-of-the-art facilities the laboratory staff performs reproductive procedures and diagnostic services consisting of:
- Assisted Hatching
- Fertility Preservation
- Freezing (cryopreservation) of sperm, eggs, & reproductive tissue
- Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET)
- Gamete Intra-Fallopian Transfer (GIFT)
- Genetic analysis of sperm
- In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
- Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
- Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration (PESA)
- Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) of embryos
- Semen analysis
- Semen preparation for Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
- Testicular Sperm Extraction (TESE)
- The lab works with freshly ejaculated sperm, frozen sperm, epididymal sperm or testicular sperm.
- Zygote Intra-Fallopian Transfer (ZIFT)
Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART)
ICSI is a technique used in the treatment of couples with male factor causes of infertility. ICSI is performed in a laboratory and involves picking up a single sperm with a tiny glass-needle and injecting it into a mature egg. Fertilization results approximately 50 to 80 percent of the time. Once the egg is fertilized, it is transferred to the woman's uterus for implantation.
Intrauterine Inseminiation (IUI) is the insertion of prepared sperm directly into the uterus. This is done in conjunction with ovulation induction (OI). IUI is offered in our clinic everyday including on weekends and holidays.
IUI results in a significant increase in the amount of sperm that reach the uterus because the procedure bypasses the vagina and the cervix. It can be helpful in women with thick cervical mucous and also in men who have lower sperm counts.
An IUI is performed by inserting a very thin tube through the cervix and injecting the sperm directly into the uterus. The sperm is collected beforehand through ejaculation and then washed. Washing the semen involves separating out the sperm from the semen. It can often also mean separating the motile from the nonmotile sperm.
In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
Since the first birth by IVF in 1978, clinics worldwide have used this procedure to fertilize human eggs in a lab setting using a special sterilized dish. The entire cycle of IVF consists of several weeks of medication, close monitoring of the patient, and procedures tailored to meet the needs of each individual infertility couple.
A typical IVF Cycle follows these steps:
First Step: Medications are prescribed to allow the ovary to grow a number of eggs which all mature at the same time. This is known as follicular growth. During this time the ovaries are monitored by ultrasound and blood samples are taken to determine the hormone levels produced by the follicles containing the eggs. Both ultrasound and hormone levels are critical to determining the exact timing for the final egg-growing phase, which is triggered by the patient administering an injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) 34-36 hours before the eggs are removed from the ovaries.
Second Step: Removal of oocytes (eggs) from the ovaries takes place. This is usually an outpatient procedure. Egg retrieval is performed with the aid of transvaginal ultrasound in order to locate the ovary for the removal of each mature follicle and its contents. Following retrieval the patient is monitored, typically one to three hours, before she is able to return home.
Third Step: An embryologist searches the follicle contents for the eggs. Once an egg is identified, the embryologist washes each egg in a special solution so as not to damage the egg before placing the washed eggs into an incubator. The eggs remain in the incubator for 4 - 6 hours before sperm are added to initiate the fertilization process.
After a period of 16 - 19 hours, the embryologist will examine each egg for evidence of fertilization by observing two small spherical structures representing the genetic contribution of the female and the male.
Final Step: The final step is the embryo transfer to the female's uterus. This procedure is almost always performed without anesthesia. Following the transfer we recommend that all patients remain resting for 1 to 2 hours before getting out of the bed.
Patients are advised to restrict their physical activity for the next 2-3 days and avoid vigorous physical activity until they have their first pregnancy test, which is usually 12 days following the embryo transfer.
Some women experiencing problems conceiving are not ovulating consistently. In most females, ovulation takes place on a monthly basis. When ovulation is irregular or not taking place at all, medication can be prescribed by the doctor. The medication prescribed assists in stimulating the ovaries to produce an egg or eggs and trigger the events which result in ovulation. Monitoring of ovulation can be done at home using ovulation predictor kits or at the clinic via ultrasound and lab work. The monitoring method is determined by the types of medications that are chosen for each patient.
Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)
Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) is the newest procedure for detecting abnormalities in early-fertilized egg and embryos. PGD is the testing of embryos for genetic abnormalities before transferring to the uterus. PGD is typically used if there is a family history of a particular genetic disorder. We offer PGD to couples who have or are carriers of specific genetic disorders. PGD testing can help ensure that healthy embryos are selected for transfer to the uterus.
Abnormal or "unbalanced" chromosomes may result in an embryo not implanting, increased rate of pregnancy loss or result in a child afflicted with severe physical and/or mental problem. For couples who wish to use the services of PDG, we will coordinate your infertility treatment with a cooperating PGD Center so that your ease of care can be maintained.
PGD Can Detect the Following:
- Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease
- Down's Syndrome
- Duchenne muscular dystrophy
- Fragile X Syndrome
- Huntington's Disease
- Gaucher's Disease
- Klienfelters Syndrome
- Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome
- Marfans Syndrome
- Sickle Cell Disease
- Spinal Muscular Dystrophy
- Turner Syndrome
- Tay Sach's Disease